Moreover, the PiS government has been extending the social program entitled "500+", which was first introduced in 2016 and offers every family an extra zł500 (approximately €116) a month, starting from every second child. The new extension of the program is expected to come into force in July and includes payments for the first child. Family programs are clearly not designed for the EU elections, but they will play a substantial role ahead of the parliamentary vote.
Viktor Orbán’s Hungary enters the EU electoral campaign with a totally different scenario. Ruling party Fidesz is performing steadily, reaching up to 50%, if not more, in the opinion polls. Unlike in Poland, the opposition forces are not only individually weak, but are also divided and internally conflicted. The right-wing party Jobbik is still the second largest party, with 12 to 15% of the votes according to the polls, compared to 19% in the 2018 parliamentary elections. The left-wing parties, the socialists and former Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition are running separately, but could jointly gather around 20% of popular support. However, smaller liberal and green opposition parties might fail to meet the threshold, thus amplifying the magnitude of Orbán’s victory.
Why are electoral results in Poland and in Hungary expected to be so different? To explain what is likely to happen, one has to start by noting the systemic differences between what we might call the Polish "socially compassionate clerical illiberalism" and Orbán’s "neoliberal identitarian authoritarianism."
In Poland, PiS was never given the constitutional power to change the rules of the game and to build up a totally new political system, as Orbán has started to do in Hungary since 2010. Firstly, the proportional electoral system does not allow any party to win two-thirds of mandates in a free and fair democratic context. Secondly, the semi-presidential system in Poland inspired from the French model inevitably creates power dynamics and struggles, even when the Prime Minister and the country’s President belong to the same party. Thirdly and no less importantly, local politics aiming for the self-government of big cities and regional administrations weighs heavily in national politics.